The market town of Wotton-under-Edge dates back to 940 AD, when it was known as Wudetun, Saxon for ‘the wooded town’. The strange ditches found near the woods are remains of the Iron Age fort and can’t fail to stir the senses. This, combined with the hauntingly atmospheric Ancient Ram Inn, make this market town on the Cotswolds escarpment a fine setting for a Halloween Hike.
Park in the free car park on Potters Pond next door to the Ancient Ram Inn. From the outside looking in there are several handwritten notes, newspaper cuttings and bizarre scribbles stuck to the windowpanes. The wooden door below street level is obstructed by weeds and creepers, while the white painted stonewalls are smudged and flaky with age and neglect. There are no peepholes to the inside so you’ll have to take the tour if you dare explore this, one of Britain’s most haunted buildings.
From the inn turn left, following the road to a blue Cotswold Way sign. Take a left on to Church Street, then right down Long Street past shops. Pass the Cotswold Bakery, then cross the road to Bradley Street, walking past houses until you reach the B4060.
The next sign to look out for is the steep Old London Road on the right. When you reach of the brow of the hill, look out for the first Public Bridleway sign leading to Wotton Hill.
Within minutes of walking by fields you’ll come to a kissing gate; go through it and walk towards an opening in the woodland. Ahead are several ditches, known as the Brackenbury Ditches, which are scars of the Iron Age hill fort. Beyond the hill, a panorama opens up to a typical Cotswold scene: miles of farmland scattered with hamlets, winding roads flanked by hedgerows and patches of woodland; a far cry from the chills of the Ancient Ram and a perfect place to park up on a bench for lunch.
Follow a waymarked path that runs near the edge of the woodland. The path loops right after a mile; when you reach a crossroads continue straight on, emerging from the trees and walking alongside a field to Old London Road. Turn left then immediately right down Adey’s Lane and follow this to Coombe Road, where a right, then left at Potter’s Pond, brings you back to the Ancient Ram Inn.
Pavements, one steep hill and muddy pathways.
How to get there
BY CAR: From the M5, come off at J14 for Dursley and head to the B4509 then B4508. Park for free in the car park just off the Potters Pond road.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Wessex Connect run frequent buses between Bristol and Wotton-under-Edge.
The Ark Coffee Shop
Long Street, Wotton-under-Edge GL12 7BX
The Royal Oak
Haw St, Wotton-Under-Edge
% 01453 842316
Ordnance Survey Explorer 167. Grid ref: ST 765 925
The Heritage Centre
The Chipping, Wotton-under-Edge GL12 7AD
Open from 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm Tues-Fri; 10am-1pm on Saturday
The Ancient Ram Inn
Call in advance to enquire about a tour.
Cotswolds Conservation Board
Gloucester Tourist Information Centre
28 Southgate Street, Gloucester GL1 2DP